BBC announces plans for Netflix-style on-demand service to showcase radio content internationally

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The BBC aims to create a Netflix-style service to showcase its wide-ranging radio content globally, Lord Hall is to announce.

The BBC director-general intends to introduce a “Netflix of the spoken word” to strengthen the ways the broadcaster shares its “rich” audio archives to reach a wider audience.

This will follow the path of the broadcaster’s iPlayer service, which allows viewers to catch up on TV programmes online, and other streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

He will discuss his goals for the BBC’s global radio outreach at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer autumn conference.

Lord Hall will say: “One of my goals in the years ahead is to strengthen and expand those areas in which we really lead the way globally. News, natural history and drama, yes. But also education, science and the arts. And audio.

“In fact, one of the big challenges I have set my teams is just that: to enhance our global audio offer. The BBC makes the best radio in the world. It is one of our crown jewels, and we have an extraordinary wealth of audio riches at our disposal.

“But, with the level of excellence we have, are we doing enough to push the fantastic drama, arts, comedy and entertainment we deliver on the world stage?”

Lord Hall will say that, using the BBC’s world-class content, he hopes to use the “current output and the richness of our archive to create a Netflix of the spoken word”.

“It’s one of the things that will help the BBC carry the full weight of Britain’s culture and values, knowledge and know-how to the world in the years ahead. And say something really important about modern Britain.”

More details about the service are expected early next year.

Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos previously praised the BBC for launching iPlayer in 2007 and paving the way for other on-demand services.

Lord Hall also told the conference the BBC must be a trusted voice in a “post-truth era”, the Press Association reported.

With rumours spreading round the world quickly on social media, people need a news source they can rely on, he said.

“I want to talk about … the BBC as a trusted voice, in a crowded arena,” he said.

“Increasingly – in a world of infinite information online, where a rumour can travel the globe in the time it takes to type 140 characters – people need to know what they can trust.

“We’re told that we have now entered the “post-truth era” where presentation can override facts, and where it can be hard to separate truth from conjecture.

“But the real truth is, it has never been more important to be able to separate facts from opinion, prediction from certainty.”

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